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Amidst Controversy, President Distributed 65th National Film Awards

Irani also hailed the noticeable presence of regional cinema and talent and also drew attention to how over 20 women were honoured at the stage.

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Iconic actress Sridevi was posthumously honoured at the 71st Cannes Film Festival. Filmmaker Subhash Ghai, who received the award on her behalf, says he felt honoured.
Sridevi gotthe TITAN Reginald F. Lewis Film Icon Award at 71st Cannes Film Festival. Wikimedia commons
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Controversy marred the 65th National Film Awards ceremony here on Thursday with several awardees protesting against the whittling down of the number of those to be honoured by the President to a select 11.

Upset over breaking from the long-held tradition of the President giving away all the awards, around 60 awardees wrote to the Directorate of Film Festivals, President’s office and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, over the “discrimination”.

The name plates of the absentee winners were placed facing down at the Vigyan Bhawan, where several others from across the length and breadth of the country congregated to celebrate the diversity of India and Indian cinema.

Celebrated names like K.J. Yesudas and A.R. Rahman, apart from actors Riddhi Sen, Divya Dutta and Pankaj Tripathi and a host of others attended the gala.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani and Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore handed out the remainder of the 125 awards at the event, which was also devoid of a musical performance unlike every year.

Another posthumous honour went to Sridevi, whose powerful performance in her last film "Mom" fetched her the Best Actress Award. Her husband Boney Kapoor and two daughters -- Jahnvi and Khushi -- took the stage together to receive what was Sridevi's first National Award in a career of 50 years.
Boney Kapoor and daughter receiving Sridevi’s award from President, BollywoodCountry

The prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award — the country’s highest cinema honour — was given posthumously to Vinod Khanna, whose wife Kavita Khanna and son Akshaye Khanna received it. It was an “emotional and proud moment,” Akshaye said.

Another posthumous honour went to Sridevi, whose powerful performance in her last film “Mom” fetched her the Best Actress Award. Her husband Boney Kapoor and two daughters — Jahnvi and Khushi — took the stage together to receive what was Sridevi’s first National Award in a career of 50 years.

President Ram Nath Kovind, who joined the ceremony in the latter half, said: “We will miss them forever… More than just box office successes, they tugged at our hearts and captured our emotions.”

He said India’s strength lies in its diversity, and cinema celebrates it by having a unifying voice which transcends regions. He spoke about the “transformational times for cinema” and how “India is gaining traction as a filmmaking destination”.

Irani also hailed the noticeable presence of regional cinema and talent and also drew attention to how over 20 women were honoured at the stage.

All the officials who took to the mike thanked the President for his presence. However, the question many were left with after this edition of the ceremony, is why all the winners were not felicitated by the President.

In the letter, the protesting awardees said they felt “dejected rather than honoured” for their work.

It was on Wednesday that the awardees were informed that a large segment of the awards will not be presented by the President. They discussed the matter with Irani the same evening and were promised a reply.

"...We are disheartened to know that we will be deprived of the honour of this appreciation of a once-in-a-lifetime moment of pride and glory that the National Film Awards had promised us."
Smriti Irani, Information and Broadcasting Minister- wikimedia commons

“In the circumstance of not receiving a response for our grievance, we are left with no option but to be absent for the ceremony. We do not intend to boycott the award, but are not attending the ceremony to convey our discontent…

“It feels like a breach of trust when an institution/ceremony that abides by extreme protocol, fails to inform of such a vital aspect of the ceremony with prior notice. It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy.

“…We are disheartened to know that we will be deprived of the honour of this appreciation of a once-in-a-lifetime moment of pride and glory that the National Film Awards had promised us.”

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The President handed over the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Nargis Dutt Award for Feature Films on National Integration, Best Book on Cinema, Best Direction (non-feature film), Best Jasari Film, Best Male Playback Singer, Best Music Direction (songs and background music), Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Direction (feature film), Best Feature Film and Best Editing.

Singer Shashaa Tirupati felt “terribly disrespected”.

Shashaa, who bagged the Best Female Playback Singer for “Vaan varuvaan” from “Kaatru Veliyidai”, told IANS: “It’s like the thrill of it is gone now… National Awards and the President go hand-in-hand. For 64 years, they have been given by the President. When you speak of the National Award, automatically people visualise the President handing over the award to the recipient.”

Riddhi Sen, the Best Actor winner for the film “Nagarkirtan”, received the honour from the President. But he found the decision for others unfair.

“This is discrimination and this is absolutely unfair.” (BollywoodCountry)

 

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Madhuri Dixit To Pay Tribute to Sridevi

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Madhuri Dixit is also honoured with India’s fourth-highest civilian award, Padma Shri in 2008. Wikimedia Commons
Madhuri Dixit is also honoured with India’s fourth-highest civilian award, Padma Shri in 2008. Wikimedia Commons

Bollywood’s dancing diva Madhuri Dixit will take Bollywood fans on a nostalgic trip as she pays tribute to her contemporary of the 1980s, the late Sridevi, at the third edition of Lux Golden Rose Awards.

This year’s event, to be held on Sunday, has extended its support to the UN’s HeForShe cause and will see Bollywood’s stalwarts lend their support for the initiative, where the men pledge to stand in solidarity with women and face gender inequality together.

Madhuri Dixit will dance on superhit tracks of veterans Hema Malini and Rekha, but the highlight of the performance is scheduled to be a heartfelt tribute to Sridevi, a statement said.

“When I was approached to do this performance, it left me both overwhelmed and excited. Given that the Awards are supporting the HeforShe movement, I thought it was also time for the women, especially in Bollywood, to celebrate each other and express solidarity with each other.

“The Lux legends are truly iconic and inspirational, and my performance is purely to take fans down memory lane while reveling and celebrating their magic,” Madhuri Dixit said.

Sridevi’s daughter Janhvi Kapoor and her “Dhadak” co-star Ishaan Khatter will put on an act inspired by their film at the event, to be co-hosted by Shah Rukh Khan and Varun Dhawan.

Janhvi said: “This stage is special to me because my mother was a Lux superstar. I am glad to be performing for my first ever awards night with my favourite co-actor and friend Ishaan, since he has always supported me up to this stage in my career.

Madhuri was offered around 2.5 crores for her role in ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun’. Wikimedia Commons
Madhuri set to pay tribute to Sridevi. Wikimedia Commons

“Since this is my first performance, I am working extra hard on perfecting my moves and I hope the audiences will shower us with lots love again.”

Shah Rukh is looking forward to celebrate cinema’s beautiful ladies.

“Hosting for this very special audience has always thrilled me and continues to fill my heart with lots of love for these superwomen,” he said.

Varun said: “It is humbling and delightful to be chosen to host for the ladies. This ye’r’s theme HeForShe is something I want to take a stand for. Shah Rukh Khan is the God of hosting and to get a chance to applaud the divas alongside him is a dream come true. I have coveted his title of the ‘King of Romance’ and ‘Ladies Man’ for a long time, and if I am able to live up even to half of his legacy, I will call myself fortunate.”

Actor Ayushmann Khurrana has also pledged his support to HeForShe, along with TV actors Nakuul Mehta and Mohit Malik.

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Ayushmann said: “As a part of the industry, it is our responsibility and not a choice to make the space we work in safe, equal and encouraging for growth for one and all. HeForShe states just that – standing in solidarity for positive change.

“In my personal experience I have seen the kind of honesty and hard work my female co-actors have put in and if they are not given due credit then it is a pity for us and the industry as a whole.” (IANS)